He said a couple of things which were really encouraging (to me anyway):
1. That he didn't come from a family that read. But a teacher - Mr Wade - opened up his mind to poetry and "...changed my life. Gave me my life." If I were a teacher I would be so inspired by this - and I needed to know this having just read in this article on 'the rise of rhyme' that:
"As recently as 2008, a survey
of 1,200 British primary school
teachers for the UKLA found that
22% could not name a single poet."
2. How poems are partly the creation of your rational, educated, manipulative, conscious mind (he was talking more about himself than me here!) and partly the murkier depths of the unconscious - so you don't always know instantly what they're going to be about or what form they should take nor should you try too hard to make them conform to shapes they don't want to be.
3. That he tweaks and twiddles, puts away, tweaks again, passes to friends, tweaks, leaves a while, gets published, hates it, tweaks again etc etc
4. That his Poetry Archive project - which makes available poets reading their own work - historic and contemporary is a massive success despite struggling for funds. And with 250,000 unique users and 1,500,000 poems listened to every month more poems are being listened to now than probably in the history of the world.
My only regret of the evening is that I never got a chance to get to the bottom of the story my colleague was telling me about a conversation she'd had with him earlier involving 'moist gussets' - it has to be some kind of 'favourite word' game... hasn't it?